The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the constitutional validity of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, that ruled out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, reported Bar and Bench.
The bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Ravindra Bhat, which was hearing a batch of pleas challenging the amendments to the Act, said the provisions related to anticipatory bail must be exercised sparingly and in exceptional cases where no prima facie case is made out.
The amendments to the Act, made in 2018, had said that the provision under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which refers to pre-arrest bail, will not apply to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
On March 20, 2018, the Supreme Court had diluted the law’s provisions and had said public servants cannot be arrested immediately after a complaint is filed against them under the law. At least 11 people died and hundreds were detained during the protests against the Supreme Court order in April 2018.
In May 2018, the court observed that no individual can be arrested without following a fair procedure of inquiry. The bench of judges AK Goel and UU Lalit was hearing the review petition that the Centre had filed.
After this, the Centre moved the court to seek a review of this order, and Parliament passed an amendment bill in August to reverse the verdict. The amendments said no preliminary inquiry would be needed to file a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval.
In October last year, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre’s review petition. It said that the directions it had issued in March 2018 were uncalled for and were not within the parameters of Article 142 of Constitution. “The court cannot do what cannot be done by the legislature,” the three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai had said.